Circus News

Remembering Lokru Srey Bandaul, Co-Founder of Phare Ponleu Selpak

Last week, we were saddened to hear of the death of Lokru Srey Bandaul, co-founder of social circus Phare Ponleu Selpak. CircusTalk would like to extend our condolences to Srey Bandaul’s friends and family, the entirety of Phare Circus, and everyone else whose life he touched. Srey Bandaul was a great proponent of the arts and spread hope to many of his students. Executive director of Phare, Osman Phareps, leaves us with the following letter.

Last night, our hearts shattered with the news our beloved Lokru Srey Bandaul had passed, succumbing to COVID-19. The entire arts community of Cambodia and beyond is devastated, losing such a beautiful soul way too soon.

Bandaul co-founded Phare Ponleu Selpak with his friends and their teacher, to bring light into the lives of those traumatized by the war. He shared his love for art with hundreds of children, mentoring many who went on to become great artists, carrying his spirit forward.

Lokru, or teacher as we all lovingly called him, truly believed in the power of arts to heal. He carried with him a beautiful energy, a constant light of hope and gentle determination. Srey Bandaul played an important role in restoring the visual arts to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge tragedy. We will always remember Lokru as the kindest, gentlest and most big-hearted soul, who was always ready to help anyone in need.

Bandaul is irreplaceable and will be forever missed. Everyone at Phare will continue his legacy and live up to his ideals. Our deepest condolences to his beautiful wife and daughters – all of Phare shares in your grief.

Hundreds of condolence messages have been left on the Phare Ponleu Selpak Facebook page, a testament to how much Bandaul is love.

This is what Lokru had to say recently for an interview, leaving us with a mission to continue developing the bright future for the next generations:

“Drawing has always been a powerful tool on my life path and as part of the history of Phare Visual Arts School. When I was in the Thai refugee camp site 2 in 1981, I used a stick of wood to draw Buddhist images on the earth. I was also inspired by scenes from Chinese movies, played once a month in the camp. When I had my first class with Veronique Decrop, I learned how to draw based on observations of our world. “Draw what you see!” as she used to say. Today the youth have more choices when it comes to developing a professional career. It is important to adapt the curriculum of our school and secure job opportunities. We want to provide the students with a complete set of technical skills, a strong fundamental and cultural knowledge of the arts, and the ability to understand, analyse, and respond to a given problem with professionalism and creativity. We have become a big family, bound by the passion for drawing and art. I really hope a bright future is coming for the next generations!” “To me, art is life. I think art has helped me a lot because I grew up in the war period. What I saw was killing and slaughtering, however, I could express myself and heal my feelings through drawing. It helped me to feel peaceful.”

With your support we will continue the legacy he leaves behind. Thank you for being with us at this time of loss.

In shared sympathy,

Osman